Riding bikes with a pussy, without being a pussy.

Kat March 17, 2012 5

Do all female animals get their periods or is it just humans?

There, if the title containing the word ‘pussy’ twice wasn’t enough to make you stop and think before reading this article, then consider that question your last warning. It’s not that I don’t want people to read this article, the problem is more that articles similar to this one (of which, sadly there are not many) often receive extremely outlandish and disproportionate scolding for their content. If porn is allowed to exist in all its glory (and I am not disputing that here at all) then talking and writing and going in to DETAIL about vaginas and periods and ‘gender’ issues should be able to be undertaken without the backlash thank you very much.

Ok, rant over.

Oooooooooooooooooh! So scary!

Here is my issue – I am going to be riding around the world (in less than four months! Oh my gosh, SO EXCITED!) However, being a female of the human species I will be riding with a few extra problems unique to my sex.

In this article I endeavour to cover three things:
1. The “special” relationship between bikes and periods;
2. Comfort, discomfort and attempting to get comfortable; and
3. Things a girl (and her man) can do to cope during these times and to even things out a bit, riding wise.

Part One: PERIODS

I shall indeed be riding with an extra friend during particular times during the amazing biking escapades Alleykat are embarking upon. That friend is not really my friend at all, but my period. There are many women I know who are at peace with theirs; it comes every 28 days like clockwork and lasts three or four days fairly pain-free and worry-free. Mine I am afraid to say (yes, it may hear me) is much more worrisome. I am on the pill because of its particularity and pain-inducing-tendencies but this is not enough. I still experience at least one day of searing ‘gut-punch’ pain, days of discomfort, generally lower levels of energy and clear-thinking-ability and higher levels of moodiness and insanity. (Lucky us!). In the months (weeks, days) leading up to leaving Melbourne for THE WORLD, I am endeavouring to find out as much about what I can do to help myself during riding with this ‘friend’.

Aforementioned was my reading on the topic – I am writing this article partly to document my preparation (Alex is extremely enthusiastic and almost viral in his fulfilling this documentation) but mostly to gather all of the intelligence together in one place for me and for everyone interested, and to use myself as a guinea pig for the next three and a half months (or should I say, the next three periods).

The reading that I’ve done has included googling websites – entering into the search engine key phrases such as “having your period while riding a bike” and “menstruation and riding bikes” and “sport and gender issues” – you get the gist. I happened across an excellent website by blogger LovelyBicycle and read her extremely informative article, “Discussing Our Bodies in Mixed Company”. From here, I clicked on a few others sites and bloggers that she referenced including Portland-based bike activist Elly Blue and other articles such as this one from ‘Grist: a Beacon in the Smog’ (a Seattle-based website).

However, although I have found solace that at least there are some articles out there about this particular topic and advice around it, there isn’t much, and as I said before, often it is met with a lot of flack and tyranny by readers who don’t wish to read such content (oh the irony!). In addition, a lot of advice I have read and received has been along the lines of ‘take it easy for a few days’ or ‘don’t ride for that week’ or ‘periods aren’t painful, gosh, just take some painkillers and you’ll be fine’, but this isn’t either helpful or relevant to the kind of long-haul riding I am going to do. But regardless of time spent on the bike and the option to lie down or not, I want some advice and I want it now!

Adventures in Menstruating indeed!

So I am going to take some action and report on the successes and failures.

Firstly, I’ll go to a doctor and ask (for what seems like the 498th time) what I can do about my period other than take the pill/suffer in silence.

Secondly, I have purchased a menstrual cup, namely ‘The Diva Cup’ and shall ride, exercise, sit, think and see whether I agree with all the converts.

Thirdly, I’m going to try different techniques for ‘mindful’ pain management, such as exercising for a few more hours the day before and on the day my period alights its sorry self on me, and I will be attempting different kinds of meditation before sleep and perhaps even during riding. Keep watching this space for progress reports and reviews on the techniques and items respectively above.

Part Two: MAKING SURE MY LADY PARTS ARE HAPPY

Time in the saddle is a delight, time on the saddle has its plight… I love riding my bike, of course it is a huge part of why I have chosen to be part of this particular Alleykat adventure. But riding does come with its own perils, and one of these is a pain in the pants. Heightened time spent riding bikes, and therefore heightened pressure exerted on the perineum has been associated with numbness and loss of sensation in men and women’s genitals. There are many methods of prevention and strategies to deal with these issues – often prescribed in collaboration. An extremely important one is correct saddle fit and height.

What your seat should feel like…notice the expression on her face? No? You have now!

I am going to invest in a saddle that treats my bits the best and am considering a suspended leather saddle with a cut-out. The Selle AnAtomica is the one that is most commonly recommended for its breathable material, good design and gentle handling.

Oddly reminiscent of a certain shape, aren't they?

Additionally, Alex and I will be sure to practice slight alterations in seating position, of course wearing lycra and have our bikes set up exactly right for us.

Part Three: ADDITIONAL COPING MECHANISMS

Upon recommendation, I am going to be imbibing more magnesium than I otherwise have. This will be in the form either pills containing calcium supplemented with magnesium or Jesse ‘Jay Sea’ Carlsson’s very own ‘superdooperbikedrink’ containing heinous amounts of powdered magnesium and an array of other equally as exciting fare.

While riding, Alex is extremely generous with extending his understanding to a very flustered or frustrated Kitty however, I think that there are going to have to be a set of protocols around this time JIC (just in case). We are also strategically packing our panniers so that Alex is taking the ‘motherload’ with weight sufficient to keep him from riding off (from me) at the speed of light. Finally, at this special and friendly time of the month, we shall plan slightly shorter days with a greater number of hugs and maybe even a higher consumption of bakery goods.

Delicious baked goods…a tried and trusted form of medication

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on TumblrPin on Pinterest
  • Michelle

    This article is fantastic!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=626677673 Aleisha Bald

    How have the intervening months been?  I hope you’ve come up with some good solutions.  

    • Kat

      Hi Aleisha! Thanks for your querie and sorry about the lack of reply…these last few months have been extremely interesting to say the least – I have undergone a minor surgery (!) and subsequently invested in an IUD amongst other things. I was bequested and have begun breaking in a new saddle (review coming soon). There’s still so much to consider and a lot that will have to be worked out as we go. The little cup thingy was good but not entirely suited to long haul riding or to my body for that matter, ho hum, still not sure! Ever the changeling…keep watching! Thanks again.

  • asder

    Hi brother and sister,
    This is Oguz. I follow your riding maps time to time. I think you’re busy with caring farm in Fethiye. I wd love to hear your performances. Good Luck. :) 

  • Robin

    How about contraceptive implant?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contraceptive_implant